July 31, 2012

Big Ideas: Carlos Asarta

Carlos Asarta
Dr. Carlos Asarta, associate professor of practice in economics at the UNL College of Business Administration, came nearly halfway around the world to study and eventually teach at Nebraska. Now part of his major focus at CBA is to make sure other children have the same opportunities that he had through ground breaking research in the area of financial literacy.

Asarta, who is originally from Toledo, Spain, received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from CBA. His interest in studying financial literacy began when he attended a couple of conferences on economics and financial literacy.

“I was very surprised with the findings in the literature showing a general lack of financial literacy among high school students," Asarta said. "It was relatively simple for me to conduct research in the area of financial literacy given that the Nebraska Council for Economic Education conducts periodic student assessments at the national level. Partnering with the Council and its President, Dr. Roger Butters, has been very rewarding and productive.”

When the college recently held its inaugural DREAM BIG academy, which fostered the idea of instilling business and leadership principles in high school seniors who might not otherwise have the opportunity to be exposed to such ideas, Asarta was eager to participate.

Carlos Asarta Teaching

Carlos Asarta Teaching

“It is very important to encourage our youth to be entrepreneurial and innovative, so I was happy to share some of my business background with the students.”

Earlier this year Asarta, along with CBA colleague Dr. Roger Butters, announced an agreement with McGraw-Hill Higher Education to develop the first-ever fully digital curriculum for the economics course. The curriculum includes electronic learning tools that help present interactive content in a way that is not possible through traditional textbooks.

“Today’s students are using technology more and more to learn, but higher education has been relatively slow in leveraging technology to support student learning. We know that our partnership with McGraw-Hill will revolutionize the way students learn economics.”

To highlight just how successful Asarta has been in furthering economic education at CBA, he was recently awarded his fourth certificate of recognition for contributions to students by the UNL Teaching Council and UNL Parents Association. He has been recognized nearly every year during his brief tenure at the college.

“In troubling economic times it is especially important for people to have basic financial literacy,” Dr. Scott Fuess, chair of the CBA economics department added. ”Through both his teaching and research, Carlos Asarta is fulfilling a valuable role, helping to teach people to make sound decisions on money matters.”

Asarta has also taken an active role in advising students that participate in the UNL UCARE program which gives undergraduates the chance to do their own research projects and co-author research papers. It’s another example of Asarta's commitment to help students uncover their hidden potential in every step of their academic career.

“I worked with one of our undergraduate students, Shannon McCoy, for the past 2-years on a UCARE grant. He was instrumental in supporting my research efforts in the area of financial literacy and became a co-author, along with Dr. Roger Butters, in a recent paper that has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Economics and Finance Education. Shannon will now be better prepared when he begins working on his UNL law degree in August. I am very thankful for the opportunities that our University and College have offered to me, and continue to offer to our students.”